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Can you tell us about the moment you realised you wanted to pursue a career in music?

In high school, I used to mess around in class and sing whatever came to mind and my friends thought I had a decent voice. I would sing Michael Jackson’s ‘You Are Not Alone’ on the school yard during lunch break and people thought I sounded just like him. The one moment I would say that made me really think about pursuing music was one time when I was singing and a girl who was listening to me started to cry. The song I sang or the way I was singing it made her think about her life and family. That is when I was like ‘Wow, I can really touch people that way with my voice?’. I never looked back since.

How would you describe the music that you make?

I love and listen to anything and everything that is good. I would like to think that my musical tastes seep into my music. From Sade to Bjork, from Sam Cooke to Radiohead. The foundation of my music will always be Soul and R&B but I like experimenting with sounds and musical directions.

What are some key elements that drive you to continue making music?

Music fulfills my soul. It makes me whole. It's my remedy, my diary. Music is a part of me that I share with the world in hopes that other people can dance, smile and relate to. Everything else that comes with being in the music industry is secondary. As long as I continue to make music that I would love to listen to then I will continue making it.

What would you say is the biggest moment of your career so far?

I have been blessed with many big moments in my career so far but I will tell you one that I was just reliving the other day and Flash Entertainment has a big part to do with it. It was when I opened for Sade in 2011. I absolutely love her music ever since I can remember. My significant other and I at the time were listening to all her albums constantly, dreaming that one day she would come to perform in the UAE. And we both said that it would be even more amazing if I got the opportunity to open for her. Not long after it was announced that she was coming to perform here and that Flash Entertainment wanted me to open up for her!!!! To think that we somehow ‘manifested’ it and it actually happened is such a powerful thing. It will always be a special moment for me, for as long as I live.

Tell us about your creative process? Has it always been the same?

My creative process is always different. It all depends on the moment really. Sometimes the lyrics come first then the melody, sometimes the other way round. I am learning to just let go and let the music come through me. I am just a vessel and the song dictates what it wants to be. I also love working with like-minded creators and try things that I would never think of.

You perform quite regularly and always put on a show to remember! What was your favourite venue to perform in?

I performed at the Abu Dhabi Corniche quite a few times and it has always been a surreal experience. Why? Because most of the people who are there wouldn’t necessarily know who I am. And to have them singing along, dancing and enjoying themselves eventually during my set is always a great feeling.

Tell us about your relationship with Flash Entertainment.

Ever since its inception, Flash Entertainment has supported me in every way possible. I have done some of my biggest shows with Flash. Opening for Sting, Sade, performing on the Corniche just to name a few. And now this - Regional Artist Spotlight. I am truly blessed, Alhamdulillah. To more in the future Inshallah.

If you could share the stage with any artist, who would it be and why?

Wow, that’s a pretty big question. I have a whole list. But if I really had to narrow it down it would be Frank Ocean (I just love his music. His lyrics and melodies just resonate with me, he is pushing the boundaries of what R&B should sound like). The other artists would either be Robert Glasper or The Roots (I love what they do, mixing genres like Hip Hop, Soul & Jazz. And its the whole band vibe. I love performing live and I love performing with a band of great musicians).

Can you tell us about the story behind your upcoming single “Higher (Breathe Easy)”?

So the last few years have been really tough on my mental health and growth due to COVID-19 and personal issues that I was dealing with internally. I made a decision earlier this year that I would only allow positive vibes and energies to live within me and it has helped my state of mind and well-being greatly. I feel like I am more in tune with myself. ‘Higher (Breathe Easy)’ is a celebration of that breakthrough. It perfectly personifies my new way of life. I wanted to make a song that says that we are not alone in all the craziness we go through. Dark times never last forever. We can be in a good place and we can uplift each other on the way up. I want my fellow brothers and sisters to let go, smile, dance and forget about their worries for a little while when they listen to Higher. My great friend and producer Colin James Gordon gave me an amazing pep talk and the perfect track to ride on and express that. I am eternally grateful.

Can you talk about other releases in 2022? Can we expect an album?

As far as my solo ventures I would like to continue to release singles and possibly an Ep down the line. I want to continue performing live, do meaningful shows. I have a project album that I am doing with some amazing friends of mine called Abri & the Everlasting. We got the chance to perform our songs for the very first time at EXPO 2020 last year and people loved it!! We are in the process of recording the songs now and Inshallah release the album later next year.

What accomplishments do you see yourself achieving in the coming years?

I just want to continue being blessed with another day as one day ends. I want to continue creating art and hopefully being a positive force in people’s lives. I have realized that accomplishments and money are not the end all be all of life. Loving oneself, spending time with loved ones and knowing that we are all beautifully connected is enough for me. Everything else is secondary.

Who would you like to work with from the region?

The Tasty Biscuits, Ananya, Tac, and all artists who are great at their craft and are great human beings.

What is the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?

You are amazing and have greatness in you. Ignore all the white noise and never change your essence. You are here to leave a legacy.

Describe your favorite interaction with a fan.

I had a beautiful interaction recently actually. I had just got off stage after a performance and a brother from Sharjah came up to me to take a selfie together. He started telling me how much my music means to him. He told me that he recently lost a really close friend of his, and one of his fondest memories was when they used to listen to my music together. He remembers his friend fondly when he listens to my music now. He just wanted to thank me for making music and getting him through that tough time. It was such a heartfelt moment and it reinforced one of the reasons as to why I make and release music. Once the music is out there it is not mine anymore, its ours. It heals and that makes me beyond happy. Brother, wherever you are, if you happen to read this, thank you so much for sharing that with me and I hope you are healing.

What would’ve been your career if you weren’t making music?

I would have been an artist like a painter or a historian. I actually went to a college in Miami a lifetime ago to study and become an artist, but unfortunately I was not able to finish my degree and by that time music was already taking over my creativity. I love history too. I am always watching documentaries about ancient civilizations and the world wars. Its fascinating to me where we come from and how far we have.

What does your involvement in the Regional Artist Spotlight mean to you?

It means the world to me. To know that I started my musical journey in the early 2000’s and I am still a part of and relevant in our music scene. To still be acknowledged and celebrated is a blessing.

What is your top 5 after-party playlist?
  1. Bob Marley - Natural Mystic
  2. The Free Nationals ft. Chronixx - Eternal Light
  3. Radiohead - No Surprises
  4. David Bowie - Space Oddity
  5. Sade - No Ordinary Love